I realize that’s an odd confession to make these days, but it’s true. I figured this out several months back when my brother jokingly commented, “500 years ago, our beliefs would have gotten us burned at the stake.” While that fate may no longer be a literal possibility, figuratively it’s a different story; just ask Rob Bell about that (although, he is burning all the way to the bank). Yesterday, while sitting outside the school waiting to pick up my daughter, I had an epiphany. As Mr. Smee (Bob Hoskins) said in the movie Hook, “Lightnin’ has just struck my brain”. With that bolt from the blue came the realization that this confession would make an excellent blog post…, and, here we are.
Everyone here should be familiar with my fetish for definitions and I’m going to indulge it right now. Merriam-Webster says that a heretic is “a dissenter from established religious dogma”, while Wikipedia tells us that a heretic is someone who commits heresy (isn’t that helpful?) and that heresy is “a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.” But, I like Dictionary.com’s definition: “a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.” That’s me in a nutshell; I’m a believer and most of my opinions are contrary to those of the Church. Now, before you freak out, I’m good with the major theological stuff, like the Trinity or the Resurrection. It’s all the other crap I “dissent” from. I’m talking about doctrines that cause to hold our brothers and sisters at arm’s length, ones that we use to insulate our safe little world from the reality that following Christ calls us to; a reality that’s scary and uncomfortable and far from safe.
There are several reasons I say I’m a heretic. Things like refusing to accept that loving someone of the same sex is a sin; that I’m more worried about what happens here on earth than I am what happens after I die; that I refuse to divide people into “us” and “them”; that I don’t believe God is a Republican, a Democrat or anything else; or that I believe in a God that is infinitely loving and infinitely forgiving and would never condemn anyone to eternal torment due their actions in a relatively few short years here on earth. If believing these things mean I’m a heretic, then so be it; I’ll embrace the label gladly. I won’t be the first to earn that name for believing this way; religious leaders called Jesus a heretic, too.